|Publication number||US7594144 B2|
|Application number||US 11/464,364|
|Publication date||Sep 22, 2009|
|Filing date||Aug 14, 2006|
|Priority date||Aug 14, 2006|
|Also published as||CN101126995A, CN101126995B, US20080126852|
|Publication number||11464364, 464364, US 7594144 B2, US 7594144B2, US-B2-7594144, US7594144 B2, US7594144B2|
|Inventors||Mark A. Brandyberry, Shiva R. Dasari, Daniel E. Hurlimann, Bruce J. Wilkie, Lee H. Wilson, Christopher L. Wood|
|Original Assignee||International Business Machines Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (17), Referenced by (26), Classifications (8), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
1. Field of the Invention
The field of the invention is data processing, or, more specifically, methods, systems, and products for handling fatal computer hardware errors.
2. Description of Related Art
The development of the EDVAC computer system of 1948 is often cited as the beginning of the computer era. Since that time, computer systems have evolved into extremely complicated devices. Today's computers are much more sophisticated than early systems such as the EDVAC. Computer systems typically include a combination of hardware and software components, application programs, operating systems, processors, buses, memory, input/output devices, and so on. As advances in semiconductor processing and computer architecture push the performance of the computer higher and higher, more sophisticated computer software has evolved to take advantage of the higher performance of the hardware, resulting in computer systems today that are much more powerful than just a few years ago.
One of the areas of computer technology that has seen considerable advancement is the handling of fatal computer hardware errors. A hardware error is a behavior related to a malfunction of a hardware component in a computer system. The hardware components, typically chips in a chipset, contain error detection mechanisms that can detect when a hardware error condition exists.
A chipset is a group of integrated circuits (‘chips’) that are designed to work together, often marketed as a single product. The manufacturer of a chipset can be, and often is, independent from the manufacturer of the motherboard. Examples of motherboard chipsets include NVIDIA's nForce chipset and VIA Technologies' KT800, both for AMD processors, or one of Intel's many chipsets. When discussing personal computers based on contemporary Intel Pentium-class systems, the term ‘chipset’ often refers to the two main bus adapters, the Northbridge and the Southbridge. In computer technology generally, the term ‘chipset’ is often used to refer to the specialized motherboard chips on a computer or expansion card. The term “chipset” was also widely used in the 1980s and 1990s for the custom audio and graphics chips in home computers, games consoles and arcade game hardware of the time. Examples include the Commodore Amiga's Original Chip Set or SEGA's System 16 chipset. In this paper, the term ‘chipset’ is used to refer to principal integrated circuit components of a computer, including processors, memory modules, and bus adapters.
Computer systems produced since the late 1980s often share commonly used chipsets, even across widely disparate computing specialties—for example, the NCR 53C9x, a low-cost chipset implementing a SCSI interface to storage devices and the like, could be found not only in Unix machines (such as the MIPS Magnum), but also in embedded devices and personal computers.
The story of modern servers is as much the story of specialized chipsets as it is the story of specialized processors and motherboards. The chipset tends to imply the motherboard; therefore, any two server boards with the same chipsets typically are functionally identical unless a vendor adds features to those provided by the chipset or removed support for certain chipset features. Vendors might, for example, add additional chips to support additional features, such as a second 10 Mbps Ethernet, 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, or 1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet port.
The chipset typically contains the processor bus adapter, often referred to as the ‘front-side bus,’ memory controllers, I/O controllers, memory modules, and more. Memory controllers may be integrated into a bus adapter. The AMD Opteron processors for servers and workstations, for example, incorporate memory controllers; chipsets that support Opteron processors (or other chipsets that integrate memory controllers into a bus adapter), therefore, typically do not contain separate memory controller chips.
In a typical server, all the principal integrated circuits on the motherboard are contained within the chipset. In a typical computer, chips of a chipset implement connections between processors and everything else. In most cases, the processors cannot communicate with memory modules, adapter boards, peripheral devices, and so on, without going through other chips of a chipset.
Although server chipsets are designed to perform the same types of tasks as desktop chipsets, the feature set included in a typical server chipset emphasizes stability rather than performance, as with a typical desktop chipset. Server-specific chipset features such as support for error-correcting code (‘ECC’) memory, advanced error correction for memory, system management, and a lack of overclocking options demonstrate the emphasis on stability.
Components of a computer traditionally concerned with hardware errors include interrupt handler modules in firmware or in an operating system. Firmware is computer system-level software module stored in non-volatile memory so as to be available to run promptly when power is first applied to the computer, before the operating system is booted. Firmware provides boot routines, hardware error handling routines, and certain low-level I/O routines. A very common example of firmware is the so-called Basic Input-Output System (‘BIOS’). In a traditional architecture for handling computer hardware errors, a chip, upon detecting an error in chip operations, signals an error by throwing an interrupt on a hardwired interrupt signal line to a programmable interrupt controller. The programmable interrupt controller then signals a processor of the interrupt, and the processor vectors the interrupt to an interrupt handling routine (called an ‘interrupt handler’) in BIOS or in the operating system.
Interrupts thrown as a result of hardware errors may be correctable, either by the hardware itself, or by a BIOS or operating system error handler, or by a user-level application routine registered with the operating system as an exception handler. Hardware errors can be classified as either corrected errors, or uncorrected errors. A corrected error is a hardware error condition that has been corrected by computer hardware or by computer firmware by the time the operating system is notified about the existence of the error condition. An uncorrected error is a hardware error condition that cannot be corrected by the hardware or by the firmware. Uncorrected errors are either fatal or non-fatal. A fatal hardware error is an uncorrected or uncontained error condition that is determined to be unrecoverable by the hardware. When a fatal uncorrected error occurs, the system is halted to prevent propagation of the error. A non-fatal hardware error is an uncorrected error condition from which the operating system can attempt recovery by trying to correct the error. Examples of hardware errors that can be fatal include divide-by-zero faults, bounds check faults, invalid opcode faults, memory segment overrun faults, invalid task state faults, stack faults, page faults, and others as known to those of skill in the art.
It is useful to distinguish the source of a hardware error report and the cause of the hardware error. A hardware error source is any chip that alerts the operating system to the presence of an error condition. Examples of hardware error sources include:
A single hardware error source might handle aggregate error reporting for more than one type of hardware error condition. For example, a processor's machine check exception typically reports processor errors, cache and memory errors, and system bus errors. Note that the system management interrupt (‘SMI’) is usually handled by firmware; the operating system typically does not handle SMI.
A hardware error source is typically represented by the following:
In some situations, there is not an explicit signaling mechanism and the operating system must poll the error status registers to test for an error condition. However, polling can only be used for corrected error conditions since uncorrected errors require immediate attention by the operating system.
Traditionally, interrupts were provided to processors through sideband signals that were not mixed into in-band buses used for data moving and instruction fetching in the system. An ‘in-band bus’ is a bus that carries the computer program instructions and data for carrying out principal data processing on the computer—as distinguished from a ‘sideband bus’ that only carries instructions and data for service communications among peripheral service components of the computer and processors, memory, and other chips of a chipset. A more recent variation on this is that lower priority interrupts were handled as message interrupts, but very high priority interrupts such as SMI and NMI were still handled as sideband signals directly wired to a processor. As such, the highest priority interrupts (those involving unrecoverable errors) were guaranteed to be handled by the processor very quickly without data integrity exposures to the system.
Recently, many computer systems have begun using message interrupts for these high priority interrupts which are mixed in with the system's data and instruction buses, the in-band buses. This approach has some merits, but it opens data integrity holes due to the amount of time it takes for the high priority interrupt to reach the system and the fact that potentially corrupted data is flowing through the system while the enqueued messaged interrupt is making its way to the processor for service.
One traditional way of handling fatal computer hardware errors in systems that use messaged interrupts on in-band buses is to allow some unrecoverable I/O errors, such as, for example, PCI SERR, PERR, and target aborts, to be handled by system software in the form of an SMI or NMI handler. Other unrecoverable errors lead to operating system ‘blue screens’ because they immediately halt the system by causing an NMI or machine check. In such systems, the machine is typically left in the failed state, that is, frozen with a blue screen, for failure analysis until the computer is manually rebooted.
Another traditional way of handling fatal computer hardware errors in computers that use HyperTransport in-band buses is to design a system so that the system goes into HyperTransport sync flood on some or all unrecoverable errors. Such systems attempt to use so-called ‘sticky bits’ in registers that are used for the identification of unrecoverable errors. Such systems reboot the system on detecting HyperTransport sync flood and depend on the BIOS being able to run successfully after the reboot to read the sticky bits and diagnose the problem. Such systems may require an additional reboot so they can take action on what they learn from the sticky bits to configure the system for reliable operation after the failure.
Both of these traditional solutions require that the system processors be able to run on the file system either before or after the system is rebooted. There is always a risk on fatal hardware errors, however that the system will not reboot at all after the failure. In addition, the second solution regarding HyperTransport buses often requires that the system be rebooted more than once after the failure. This is very confusing to users who often interpret such additional reboots as the system ‘thrashing’ itself after a failure. In addition, some errors, such as multi-bit memory errors, link errors in HyperTransport buses, PCI errors, and the like, may be so severe as to cause a firmware or operating system interrupt handler to be unable to run at all. This means a fatal hardware error does not get logged and diagnosed in a detailed, meaningful fashion. All that is known is that the system crashed. Handling fatal hardware errors through firmware or operating system interrupt handlers therefore always bears at least some risk of data loss.
Methods and apparatus are disclosed for handling fatal computer hardware errors on a computer that include halting data processing operations of the computer upon occurrence of a fatal hardware error; signaling by a source chip of a chipset to the programmable logic device the occurrence of a fatal hardware error; signaling by the programmable logic device to an embedded system microcontroller the occurrence of a fatal hardware error; reading by the embedded system microcontroller through at least one sideband bus from registers in chips of the chipset information regarding the cause of the fatal hardware error; and storing by the embedded system microcontroller the information in non-volatile random access memory of the embedded system microcontroller.
The foregoing and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular descriptions of exemplary embodiments of the invention as illustrated in the accompanying drawings wherein like reference numbers generally represent like parts of exemplary embodiments of the invention.
Exemplary methods, systems, and products for handling fatal computer hardware errors according to embodiments of the present invention are described with reference to the accompanying drawings, beginning with
The example computer of
The PLD (104) in this example is communicatively coupled through two sideband buses to chips of the chipset and to an embedded system microcontroller. A sideband bus is a bus for service communications among peripheral service components of the computer and processors, memory, and other chips of the chipset. Examples of sideband buses useful in computers that handle fatal hardware errors according to embodiments of the present invention include JTAG and other boundary scan buses, I2C buses VESA Display Data Channels (DDC) buses, the System Management Bus (‘SMBus’), the Intelligent Platform Management Bus (‘IPMB’), and others as may occur to those of skill in the art. I2C is a serial computer bus invented by Philips that is used to attach low-speed peripherals to a motherboard, embedded system, or cell phone. The name is an acronym for Inter-Integrated Circuit and is pronounced I-squared-C. I2C is the basis for the ACCESS.bus, the VESA Display Data Channel (DDC) interface, the System Management Bus (SMBus), and the Intelligent Platform Management Bus (IPMB, one of the protocols of IPMI).
‘JTAG’ is an acronym for Joint Test Action Group and is the name usually used to refer to the IEEE 1149.1 standard entitled Standard Test Access Port and Boundary-Scan Architecture. JTAG is a standard for test access ports used for testing printed circuit boards and components (including computer processors) using boundary scan. Boundary scan is a method for testing interconnects (thin wire lines) on printed circuit boards or sub-blocks inside of an integrated circuit. The boundary scan standard referred to as JTAG has been so widely adopted by electronic device companies all over the work that today ‘boundary scan’ and ‘JTAG’ are practically synonyms. In this specification, however, ‘boundary scan’ and ‘JTAG’ are not treated as synonyms. ‘Boundary scan’ as the term is used here refers to boundary scan operations generally, while ‘JTAG’ is used to refer to boundary scans according to the JTAG standard. That is, in this specification, JTAG is treated as an example of one kind of boundary scan, admittedly a widely used example, but nevertheless, just one example. The term ‘boundary scan’ includes not only JTAG, but also any kind of boundary scan that may occur to those of skill in the art.
The boundary scan architecture provides a means to test interconnects and clusters of logic, memories, and other circuit elements without using physical test probes. It adds one or more so called ‘test cells’ connected to each pin of a device that can selectively override the functionality of that pin. These cells can be programmed through a JTAG scan chain to drive a signal onto a pin and across an individual trace on the board. The cell at the destination of the board trace can then be programmed to read the value at the pin, verifying the board trace properly connects the two pins. If the trace is shorted to another signal or if the trace has been cut, the correct signal value will not show up at the destination pin, and the board will be known to have a fault.
When performing boundary scan inside integrated circuits, boundary scan latch cells, sometimes called ‘test cells’ or ‘latch cells’ or just ‘latches,’ are added between logical design blocks in order to be able to control them in the same manner as if they were physically independent circuits. For normal operation, the added boundary scan latch cells are set so that they have no effect on the circuit, and are therefore effectively invisible. Then when the circuit is set into a test mode, the latches enable a data stream to be passed from one latch to the next, serially, in a so-called ‘scan chain.’ As the cells can be used to force data into the board, they can set up test conditions. The relevant states can then be fed back into an external test system by clocking the data word back serially so that it can be analyzed. By adopting this technique, it is possible for a test system, including an embedded system microcontroller or BMC, to gain test access to a board or to internal logic in an integrated circuit such as a computer processor or computer memory module.
In this example, the PLO (104) is connected to processors (108, 110) and to the embedded system microcontroller (102) through ITAG buses (286, 288, 292), and the PLD (104) is connected to bus adapter (272) and to the embedded system microcontroller (102) through 12C buses (224, 226). The PLD (104) in this example also provides the capability of dynamic boundary scan test chain configuration and the ability to communicate with a single processor in a virtual chain of processors as described in more detail in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/464,393, entitled “Processor Fault Isolation,” which is hereby incorporated by reference into this specification as though fully set forth herein. For fault isolation purposes after occurrence of a fatal hardware error, an embedded system microcontroller, represented here by Baseboard Management Controller (‘BMC’) (102), manipulates select lines (not shown in
As mentioned, the embedded system microcontroller is represented in the example of
Different types of sensors built into a computer system that uses a BMC report to the BMC on parameters such as temperature, cooling fan speeds, power mode, operating system status, processor operations, and so on. The BMC monitors the sensors and can send alerts to a system administrator via the network if any of the parameters do not stay within preset limits, indicating a potential failure of the system. The administrator can also remotely communicate with the BMC to take some corrective action such as resetting or power cycling the system to get a hung operating system running again. These abilities save on the total cost of ownership of a system.
Physical interfaces to the BMC may include System Management Buses (‘SMBs’), an RS-232 bus, address and data lines and an Intelligent Platform Management Bus (‘IPMB’), that enables the BMC to accept IPMI request messages from other management controllers in the system. The BMC communicates with a BMC management utility (‘BMU’) on a remote client using IPMI protocols. The BMU is usually a command line interface (‘CLI’) application. The Intelligent Platform Management Interface (IPMI) specification defines a set of common interfaces to computer hardware and firmware which system administrators can utilize to monitor system health and manage the system.
IPMI operates independently of the operating system and allows administrators to manage a system remotely even in the absence of the operating system or the system management software, or even if the monitored system has not powered on. IPMI can also function when the operating system has started, and offers enhanced features when used with the system management software. IPMI enables sending out alerts via a direct serial connection, a local area network (‘LAN’) or a serial over LAN (‘SOL’) connection to a remote client. System administrators can then use IPMI messaging to query platform status, to review hardware logs, or to issue other requests from a remote console through the same connections. The standard also defines an alerting mechanism for the system to send a simple network management protocol (‘SNMP’) platform event trap (‘PET’).
The example computer of
In the example computer of
The computer (246) of
The HyperTransport bus (294, 248, 242) is a bus that complies with standards promulgated by The HyperTransport Technology Consortium. The HyperTransport bus (294, 248, 242) is a bidirectional serial/parallel high-bandwidth, low-latency computer bus that is very fast. HyperTransport buses, depending on the version, may run from 200 MHz to 2.6 GHz (compared to PCI at either 33 or 66 MHz). The HyperTransport bus (294, 248) is also a DDR or “Double Data Rate” bus, meaning it sends data on both the rising and falling edges of its bus clock signal. This allows for a maximum data rate of 5200 MTransfers/s per pair running at 2.6 GHz. The primary use for HyperTransport, and the way the HyperTransport bus (294, 248) is shown in the example computer of
In the case of computers that use HyperTransport buses as in-band buses, on an unrecoverable error, HyperTransport-connected chips can be configured by register setting so that synchronization packets or ‘sync’ packets are sent on a failing HyperTransport link. Other HyperTransport connected chips can be configured by register settings to propagate sync floods seen on one of their links to the HyperTransport links they are connected to. If all HyperTransport chips are set to propagate sync floods then all of the system's HyperTransport buses will be in the sync flood state within nanoseconds of when an unrecoverable error occurs.
HyperTransport adapter (272) represents a chip of a chipset that is configured to operate as a ‘source chip’ by signaling to the PLD (104) the occurrence of an unrecoverable error. That is, adapter (272) can function as a ‘source chip’ in the sense that it can be the source of a signal that a fatal hardware error has occurred. In this example, the source chip (272) is connected to an in-band bus that supports messaged interrupts, that is, to a HyperTransport bus. Any chip connected to any link of the HyperTransport bus may cause data processing operations on the computer to halt by effecting a sync flood on the HyperTransport bus upon occurrence of a fatal hardware error. That is, for example, if processor (110) detects a fatal memory address error, processor (110) can sync flood the HyperTransport bus, thereby halting data processing operations on the computer. HyperTransport adapter (272) detects the sync flood on the HyperTransport bus, interprets the sync flood as representing the occurrence of a fatal computer hardware error, and uses the hardwired fatal error signal line (232) to notify the PLD (104) and the Southbridge of the fatal hardware error. The PLD then in turn can use the I2C sideband bus (226) to signal the occurrence of the fatal hardware error to the embedded system microcontroller (102). In this way, the embedded system microcontroller (102) is advised of the occurrence of a failure on an in-band bus, in this case a HyperTransport bus, with no need for the embedded system microcontroller (102) itself to be connected to the in-band bus. This system setup blocks all system data movement on an unrecoverable error and therefore terminates any data integrity exposures. All interrupts are also locked by the sync flood from propagating on the HyperTransport buses.
The embedded system microcontroller (102) then reads through a sideband bus from registers in chips of the chipset information regarding the cause of the unrecoverable error. In this example, the embedded system microcontroller (102) reads information regarding the cause of the fatal hardware error at least from registers on processor (110) through JTAG buses (292, 288). The embedded system microcontroller (102) can read information regarding the cause of the fatal error from registers in other chips also—because although processor (110) in this example detected the error and bus adapter (272) reported the error, it is likely that neither processor (110) nor bus adapter (272) actually caused the error. For useful diagnosis therefore, the embedded system microcontroller (102) may query register from multiple chips of the chipset. In this example, the system firmware/BIOS previously at boot time configured each HyperTransport connected chip to propagate sync flood to all other HyperTransport bus links it is connected to so that the chip doing HyperTransport error detection can reliably detect that sync flood has occurred.
The embedded system microcontroller (102) then stores the information regarding the cause of the fatal error in non-volatile random access memory (103) of the embedded system microcontroller—so that the information will be available for use in error diagnosis even after a reboot. The embedded system microcontroller (102) may also store the information regarding the cause of the unrecoverable error in a system error log and reboot the computer by the embedded system microcontroller. In such a system, it is the embedded system microcontroller (102) that controls the timing of the reboot, not the BIOS/firmware. The computer (246) in this example connects the processors (106, 110) and other system components (274, 276, 278) to PLD (104) by reset signal lines (230) so that the embedded system microcontroller (102) can use I2C signals (226) to instruct the PLD to reset individual components of the system or reboot the entire computer system. System firmware (236) can determine during reboot, in dependence upon the information regarding the cause of the fatal hardware error, whether the computer can successfully be returned to service after occurrence of a fatal hardware error.
The computer (246) of
The example computer of
The computer of
For further explanation,
The in-band bus is a bus for communication of computer program instructions and computer program data for execution of application programs among processors, memory, and chips of the chipset. The in-band bus may be a HyperTransport bus, an Intel Frontside bus, a PCI bus, a PCI-E bus, a PCI-X bus, or the like. The sideband bus is a bus for service communications among peripheral service components of the computer and processors, memory, and chips of the chipset. The sideband bus may be a Joint Test Action Group (‘JTAG’) bus, an Inter-Integrated Circuit (‘I2C’), a VESA Display Data Channel (‘DDC’) interface, a System Management Bus (‘SMBus’), an Intelligent Platform Management Bus (‘IPMB’), or the like. The embedded system microcontroller may be a Baseboard Management Controller (‘BMC’).
The method of
The method of
The method of
The method of
The method of
In view of the explanations set forth above in this paper, readers will recognize that handling fatal computer hardware errors according to embodiments of the present invention provides these benefits:
Exemplary embodiments of the present invention are described largely in the context of a fully functional computer system for handling fatal computer hardware errors. Readers of skill in the art will recognize, however, that the present invention also may be embodied in a computer program product disposed on signal bearing media for use with any suitable data processing system. Such signal bearing media may be transmission media or recordable media for machine-readable information, including magnetic media, optical media, or other suitable media. Examples of recordable media include magnetic disks in hard drives or diskettes, compact disks for optical drives, magnetic tape, and others as will occur to those of skill in the art. Examples of transmission media include telephone networks for voice communications and digital data communications networks such as, for example, Ethernets™ and networks that communicate with the Internet Protocol and the World Wide Web. Persons skilled in the art will immediately recognize that any computer system having suitable programming means will be capable of executing the steps of the method of the invention as embodied in a program product. Persons skilled in the art will recognize immediately that, although some of the exemplary embodiments described in this specification are oriented to software installed and executing on computer hardware, nevertheless, alternative embodiments implemented as firmware or as hardware are well within the scope of the present invention.
It will be understood from the foregoing description that modifications and changes may be made in various embodiments of the present invention without departing from its true spirit. The descriptions in this specification are for purposes of illustration only and are not to be construed in a limiting sense. The scope of the present invention is limited only by the language of the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||714/43, 714/44, 714/34|
|Cooperative Classification||G06F11/0745, G06F11/0787|
|European Classification||G06F11/07P1K, G06F11/07P4G|
|Nov 20, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION, NEW Y
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BRANDYBERRY, MARK A.;DASARI, SHIVA R.;HURLIMANN, DANIEL E.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:018536/0151;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060707 TO 20060811
|Apr 12, 2007||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION, NEW Y
Free format text: CORRECTIVE ASSIGNMENT TO CORRECT THE EXECUTION DATE FOR ASSIGNOR SHIVA R. DASARI PREVIOUSLY RECORDED ON REEL 018536 FRAME 0151;ASSIGNORS:BRANDYBERRY, MARK A.;DASARI, SHIVA R.;HURLIMANN, DANIEL E.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:019151/0025;SIGNING DATES FROM 20060727 TO 20060811
|May 3, 2013||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Sep 22, 2013||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|Nov 12, 2013||FP||Expired due to failure to pay maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20130922